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Censorship: A Question of Judgment?


Published 1963


Should the sponsor of a high-school newspaper have the power to determine whether a picture of a student fight should be printed?


Run time 4:34
Producer Horizon Productions Services
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Sd, C


Shotlist

Discusses two basic issues--whether or not it is good reporting or good taste to print in a high school newspaper a picture of a fight involving students, and whether or not the sponsor of a high school paper should have the power to determine what shall and what shall not be printed.

Some nice you-are-the-victim shots as the battling boys throw punches into the hand-held camera.

03:52:28
VO: "The latest in an increasing trend to settle differences brutally."
Scene of two boys fighting in ring of other teen spectators. *
03:52:51
More fight scenes
CU POV shots - lots of screaming
03:55:08
Argument between student and teacher over school newspaper
03:55:19
Teacher: "Nancy, how is it going to be a better world if all our newspapers do is print stories of fights and robberies and murders?"
Nancy: "I believe it will help. I don't think we should hide things just because they're unpleasant. How do we stop things if we don't let people know they are happening."

Ken Smith sez: "How is this going to be a better world if all the newspapers do is print stories of fights and robberies and murders?" This little film marks a turning point in the attitude of educational filmmakers. It opens with a shot of two high school teens flailing at each other while a circle of their classmates cheer them on. "Another school fight," the narrator sighs. "The latest in what appears to be an increasing trend to settle disputes brutally." Nancy Martin, editor of the school paper, takes a photo of the fight and wants to run it on page one, but Mr. Bishop, her advisor, refuses. "We live in a world that's troubled enough," he explains. "We want to show the good things that our students are doing, not the bad things." Nancy, starry-eyed New Frontierperson that she is, disagrees. "I don't think we should hide things just because they're unpleasant," she snorts. "We need to let people know about things that are going wrong. The things that have to be corrected!" Obviously, the world of 1963 was not one that the founders of the educational film industry had envisioned. Yet, interestingly, Nancy is attractive, well-groomed and earnest, while Mr. Bishop is bald, wears glasses, and is clad in a dull, black suit. Who do you think the makers of this film wanted us to side with?

SIXTIES MINDSET MENTALITY FIGHTS BRAWLS FISTFIGHTS STUDENTS HIGH SCHOOLS TEENAGERS NEWSPAPERS
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Reviews

Reviewer: 23_skidoo - - July 23, 2007
Subject: A Question of Judgment
From Horizon Productions of Kansas City comes this very short educational film on censorship. Two boys are fighting out front after school. This scene goes on way too long, but an interesting thing about it are the handheld camera shots from the two fighters' point of view. Nancy Martin, a reporter for the school paper, sees the ugly scene from a window, and rushes down with a camera to get some pictures she hopes to print in the paper the next day. However, the paper's faculty advisor, Mr. Bishop, is not going to let the photos be printed. He argues that it is the school paper's business to report only on the pleasant aspects of school life ("after all, some parents might be reading") and he claims that the only reason big-city papers always run stories on robbery and murder is that they're simply into sensationalism. Nancy convincingly argues that an article and photo in the paper would raise awareness and convince people that something must be done about all this fighting that's been going on lately.

In the end, the narrator's voice comes in, while a question mark slowly fills the screen, and in a very Centronesque moment, he asks, "Who is right? What would you do?" etc. The filmmakers seem to be rooting for Nancy, and as Ken Smith notes, this marks a bit of a turning point in social guidance attitudes (it's 1963, after all). It seems Nancy has no choice but to go behind Bishop's back and print the picture anyway. Then it might get enough of a favorable (or effective) reaction to cause Bishop to rethink his position. Incidentally, Mr. Bishop is played by Keith Painton, a radio announcer from Kansas City who is the office boss in the Calvin film 'The Bright Young Newcomer'. "Censorship: A Question of Judgment?" was written and directed by Reza Badiyi with photography by Maurice Prather (see Centron). Nothing spectacular, but worth a look. Of course, at only four and a half minutes, this film wouldn't take up too much of your time anyway.
Reviewer: Steve Nordby - - January 25, 2004
Subject: Denial of reality
Is there a difference of opinion? What is censorship? Teen boys fight after school and a girl on the student newspaper gets a picture. Faculty advisor refuses to put it in the paper: "Parents will see it," "not what the people want," "will hurt the reputation of the school," "very poor taste," "what good will it do if all our newspapers do is print stories of fights and robberies and murders." The usual arguements that add up to: don't print the news if you don't *like* the news.
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